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Inflow Performance Relationship for Unconventional Reservoirs (Transient

Mohammad Sadeq Shahamat, S. Hamed Tabatabaie, Louis Mattar, and Ehsan Motamed, IHS Global Canada

Copyright 2015, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE/CSUR Unconventional Resources Conference held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 20 22 October 2015.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents
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Inflow Performance Relationship (IPR) describes a wells inflow rate at various flowing pressures. The
conventional IPR assumes stabilized (i.e. boundary dominated) flow conditions. Unconventional reser-
voirs may take several years to reach stabilization and their performance evaluation involves complex
modeling of stimulated reservoir volume (SRV) and requires advanced reservoir engineering knowledge.
As a result, some of the traditional IPR concepts and notions are not applicable.
This paper discusses the behaviour of transient IPR in comparison to stabilized IPR, the meaning
of slope and intercept in transient IPR, and the differences between IPR of conventional and unconven-
tional reservoirs. In addition, the effect of production history on transient IPR of a well is examined.
The result of this study is a methodology for generating a practical transient IPR for multi-fraced
horizontal wells. After history-matching the wells performance, the resulting reservoir model is used in
a straightforward procedure to obtain the transient IPR in a form similar to the conventional IPR. This
means that it can be used with nodal analysis for determining the effect of changing flowing pressure on
the inflow rate.
The methodology presented in this paper maintains the simplicity of use of IPRs, yet accounts for
unconventional reservoir complications. The practical transient IPR can be used directly by the
production engineer for optimizing the production performance of a well without the need to get involved
in the complexities of reservoir modeling.

Flow into a well depends on both the reservoir characteristics and the sandface flowing pressure. The
Inflow Performance Relationship (IPR) describes the wells inflow rate at various flowing pressures. It
simply quantifies how much the reservoir can influx into the wellbore (at the sandface). Combining the
IPR with a tubing performance provides production engineers an easy-to-use tool for determining the
effect of changing the wellbore configuration, for example tubing and choke size, and choice and timing
of artificial lift on the production rate.
IPR traces its origin to the work of Rawlins and Schellhardt (1936), where they presented the
well-known empirical backpressure or deliverability equation for relating gas rate to flowing pressure. The
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literature is replete with studies aimed at generalizing IPR for vertical, fractured or horizontal wells in
reservoirs with multiphase flow, with or without skin, with or without pressure support (Standing 1970,
Fetkovich 1973, Brown 1984, Wiggins 1994, Golan and Whitson 1995). A common feature of all IPR
studies is the implicit assumption of stabilized flow conditions. Stabilized flow, also referred to as
Boundary-Dominated Flow (BDF), is reached relatively quickly in conventional reservoirs. Accordingly
any change at the well reasonably reflects the entire reservoir response. In other words, the IPR takes into
account all relevant reservoir and fluid properties such as permeability, net pay, reservoir area and shape,
and completion effectiveness. The only factor it does not account for is the change in the average reservoir
pressure. The IPR depends on the depletion state of the reservoir; at different average reservoir pressures,
a different IPR applies. In other words, the IPR is valid as long as the average reservoir pressure is
maintained. The implication is that an IPR reflects the sustained performance of the well, and not simply
a short-term (transient) response.
In unconventional reservoirs, however, it may take several years for stabilization to be attained, and a
significant amount of depletion can occur before stabilization is reached. Moreover, any change in
operating conditions at the well, introduces a transient response which takes a long time to dissipate
throughout the reservoir. Thus, in unconventional reservoirs because of the dominance of the transient
response, time dependence of IPR is significantly accentuated such that some of the traditional concepts
and notions are not applicable. In addition, flow performance evaluation of unconventional reservoirs
involves complex modeling of complex reservoirs and requires advanced reservoir engineering knowl-
edge. In these reservoirs, the forecasting of future performance of a well is onerous, and in essence, the
simplicity of the traditional IPR used by production engineers is lost.
In this paper, first a review of the conventional IPR is presented. Then the characteristics of Transient
IPR are studied, with particular emphasis on unconventional reservoirs. Finally a methodology is
developed to generate a practical Transient IPR for unconventional wells. Production engineers can use
this IPR the same way they did for conventional wells.

Conventional IPR
The simplest conventional IPR is the straight line IPR, which assumes that fluid inflow into the well is
proportional to the difference between reservoir pressure and wellbore pressure. The constant of propor-
tionality is called the productivity index, PI. For steady state flow of single-phase incompressible or
slightly compressible fluids (water or undersaturated oil) in the reservoir, Darcys law can be used to
derive a straight-line IPR. Plotting wellbore pressure vs. rate in these cases give a straight line with an
intercept and slope equal to average reservoir pressure and inverse of productivity index, respectively.
However, when multiple phases are flowing in the reservoir, such a straight-line relationship is not
obtained. Field testing on gas wells (Rawlins and Schellhardt 1936) and wells with two-phase flow
(Evinger and Muskat 1942) during 1920s 1940s revealed this fact. Analysis and interpretation of several
hundred multirate gas welltests by Rawlins and Schellhardt (1936) led to development of the well-known
empirical backpressure equation:
Eq. 1

Using this equation, a logarithmic plot of the delta pressure-squared (pavg2 Pw/2) vs. rate gives a
straight line with a slope of 1/n, see Figure 1. In addition, C is the productivity coefficient which is
determined from the location of the straight line. Field application of the backpressure equation revealed
that n is between 0.5 and 1.0 and C is not a constant unless production is stabilized. The IPR that is
commonly used is the Stabilized IPR (the transient IPR is only an intermediate step for obtaining the
desired Stabilized IPR).
SPE-175975-MS 3

Figure 1Inflow Performance Relationship for a gas well

The approach used to determine IPR using Eq. 1 is commonly called the Simplified Method. In 1959,
Houpeurt presented a theoretical deliverability relationship derived from the generalized radial diffusivity
equation, accounting for non-Darcy flow effects. This approach is called the Laminar Inertial Turbulent
(LIT) approach and has been used in the industry for performance analysis of gas wells. It is noteworthy
that one can use pseudo-pressure in place of pressure-squared terms in the Simplified (Eq. 1) or LIT
methods to obtain a more general form of the backpressure equation (ERCB 1975).
In 1965, Weller published the first IPR for solution-gas drive reservoirs. He plotted the flowing
bottom-hole pressure vs. flow rate and provided a useful method for estimating oil well productivity.
Vogel (1968) used the Weller method to calculate IPR curves for wells producing from several
depletion-drive reservoirs with a variety of PVT properties and relative permeability data. Focused on
analysis of oil wells with two-phase flow (saturated oil), Vogel (1968) discussed that as the reservoir
pressure drops below bubble-point pressure, productivity index exhibits a progressive deterioration. He
stated that this is because increasing gas saturation reduces oil relative permeability and therefore
increases resistance to oil flow. Vogel ran a number of simulation cases and by introducing the notion of
dimensionless IPR curves noticed that the dimensionless curves exhibit similar shapes for various
reservoir conditions. Then, he fitted a reference curve (Eq. 2) to the obtained results for most undamaged
solution-gas drive wells (theoretical support for the Vogel reference curve was presented by Wiggins et
al. 1991):
Eq. 2

Later, Brown (1984) coupled Vogels IPR for two-phase flow with the single-phase productivity index
to give a composite IPR applicable for oil reservoirs above and below bubble-point pressure, Figure 2. The
curvature in this IPR curve is due to breakout of gas below bubble-point pressure near the wellbore.
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Figure 2Vogel Inflow Performance Relationship presented by Brown (1984)

Figure 2 shows the water, oil and total IPR. Slope of the IPR is equal to the inverse of the productivity
index, 1/PI. For water, IPR is a straight line over the entire pressure range. For oil, however, when p >
pb IPR is a straight line and when p <pb IPR exhibits a downward curvature. It is noted that the total IPR
is constructed by addition of the oil rate and water rate at any specific flowing pressure.
Several researchers examined the applicability of the Vogel equation for conditions other than those
originally considered by Vogel. Attempting to generalize the IPR curve, these studies investigated the
effect of skin (Standing 1970), three-phase flow (Wiggins 1994), inertial flow (Houpeurt equation 1959)
and presented companion sets of curves to Vogels curve. These studies demonstrated that under different
conditions the productivity index decreases and therefore conventional IPR exhibits a downward curva-
ture. Golan and Whitson (1995) provided a summary of the reasons for the decrease in PI, among which
are the following factors: (1) damage near the wellbore related to drilling and completion operations, (2)
reduced drainage area due to infill drilling, (3) reduced permeability due to multiphase flow, fines
migration or pressure-dependent properties, or (4) transient flow. This has been graphically demonstrated
in Figure 3. The latter factor (transient flow) will be discussed in more detail in the next section.

Figure 3Actual versus Ideal IPR (Modified from Golan and Whitson 1995)

In 1973, Fetkovich presented another empirical IPR for solution-gas drive oil reservoirs. His relation-
ship was similar to the empirical gas well deliverability equation proposed by Rawlins and Schellhardt
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(1936), Eq. 1, and gained wide industry acceptance because of its simplicity. Similar to gas wells,
Fetkovich plotted production rate (oil) versus (paVg2 Pwf2) on log-log paper (Figure 1). Therefore, n
is the reciprocal slope of the backpressure line and C is the productivity coefficient. Fetkovich confirmed
general (field) applicability of this equation for saturated oil wells. Note that the oil Fetkovich equation
is different in form but consistent in behavior with the Vogel equation (Eq. 2).

Transient Flow vs. Stabilized Flow

The conventional testing methods developed to determine the deliverability potential of a well can be
placed into three categories: tests that use all stabilized data (conventional flow-after-flow, Rawlins and
Schellhardt 1936), tests that use a combination of stabilized and transient data (isochronal, Cullender
1955; and modified isochronal, Katz et al. 1959), and tests that calculate stabilized performance from
transient data (multiple modified isochronal tests, Brar and Aziz 1978). It can be stated that all the
conventional IPR methods are based on a knowledge of the average reservoir pressure and an assumption
of stabilized-flow (BDF) condition. This assumption works reasonably well in high-permeability reser-
voirs, because BDF conditions can be reached relatively quickly. With a knowledge of the average
pressure (which is assumed constant for a period of time) and the stabilized IPR the production rate at any
bottomhole flowing pressure is determined. As long as the average pressure does not change, the IPR is
valid. When there is considerable reduction in average reservoir pressure because of depletion, the
productivity deteriorates and consequently the IPR changes. Therefore the time component in conven-
tional IPR manifests itself as depletion of reservoir pressure.
When the reservoir permeability is low, however, transient flow takes longer (days or months or even
years), and the BDF assumption is not honored. With time, more reservoir volume is investigated, which
indicates higher resistance to flow towards the wellbore, reduction in productivity index and therefore
depreciation of the IPR. Assuming that average pressure is equal to initial pressure during transient flow
(reasonable assumption in radial flow cases) and using changing productivity index at different times, one
can apply the simple equations presented previously to obtain a transient IPR. Figure 4 is an illustration
of the conventional IPR generated during both transient and BDF. Time t4 corresponds to the start of
boundary-dominated flow. Before time t4 flow is transient, therefore the IPR passes through initial
pressure at zero rate (q0 0). After stabilization (t t4), production causes depletion therefore the
y-intercept decreases with time (pavg pi).

Figure 4 IPR during transient and boundary-dominated flow (Modified from Golan and Whitson, 1995)
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Golan and Whitson (1995) discuss that during transient flow, because the productivity index changes
significantly with time, a wells inflow performance changes too quickly with time and thus a transient
IPR is not as practically useful as a stabilized IPR. They point out that in cases where the reservoir is tight
and transient production is long, the IPR equation is a rate-time instead of a rate-pressure relationship.
In addition to the changing PI discussed above, there is another obvious complication due to transient
flow: the classic IPR does not properly account for variations in rate. Since any rate change causes
propagation of a new pressure transient into the reservoir, its effect combined with all previous transients
need to be accounted for through superposition. Superposition is not considered in classic IPR method-
Transient IPR
Commercial production from unconventional reservoirs requires extensive hydraulic fracturing of hori-
zontal wells. It has been postulated that such a stimulation practice creates a complex network of fractures,
thus a region of higher permeability, around each hydraulic fracture. The flow regime most often observed
in these wells is transient linear flow. This flow regime may last several years because of the extremely
low permeability, often it is the only flow regime observed. During this extended period of transient flow,
there can be significant depletion. Existence of linear flow as opposed to radial flow and depletion before
reaching BDF, in addition to the convoluted production contribution of the stimulated and non-stimulated
regions, and pressure-dependent reservoir properties will complicate analysis of these reservoirs and
therefore affect the IPR. A reliable IPR should be able to consider, at least partly, the above complications.
Numerical and analytical modeling of unconventional reservoirs (Stalgorova and Mattar; 2012 and
2013) allows transient IPRs to be readily generated. The procedure for generating transient IPR is as
follows: First, a representative reservoir model is selected. Then, history matching on the available rate
and pressure data is performed, from which the unknown reservoir parameters are obtained. After
achieving a reasonable result, the model is used to forecast into the future for a specified time and under
different flowing pressure (or rate) conditions. The model gives corresponding rates (or pressures). At any
time of interest, the rate and pressure pairs for different forecasting scenarios are used to generate transient
The transient IPR is different from conventional IPR because it does not use the conventional IPR
relationships. It depends on the selected model, length and quality of the history-match, and method of
production forecasting. In the following sections, the effect of these factors on the obtained transient IPR
is elaborated. First, the transient IPR is obtained for a reservoir with linear flow, Figure 5a. The generated
IPR is examined for different fluids, under different production forecasting scenarios with/without history.
Other reservoir models (i.e. Figures 5b and 5c) are also investigated.

Figure 5Reservoir schematics used for generation of the transient IPRs: (a) vertical fractured well, (b) a vertical well, (c) a
multi-fractured horizontal well with a stimulated region around each fracture (a single fracture is shown)
SPE-175975-MS 7

Reservoir with Linear Flow

This section considers an oil well with reservoir geometry and dimension shown in Figure 5a. Initial
reservoir pressure and permeability were set to 5000 psia and 0.1 md, and bubble point pressure of 300
was used to simulate single-phase flow. The cases considered here were (i) without any history,
forecasting from the start for a period of 6 months; and (ii) with history, where the well produced at
constant pwf for nine months and then its production was forecast for a period of 6 months. For the
forecasting part (of the without-history case), different constant-rate or constant-pressure scenarios
(Figure 6b and 6c) were assigned and the corresponding pressures and rates (Figure 6a and 6d) were
calculated by the model.

Figure 6 Without history: Constant-pwf and constant-rate forecasting scenarios in a linear flow case, used for generating transient

Figure 7 shows the same plot as that of Figure 6 for the case where there is 9 months of production
history. Figures 7a and 7b depict the constant-pressure production scenario, and Figures 7c and 7d show
the constant-rate production scenario.
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Figure 7With nine months of production history: Constant-pwf and constant-rate forecasting scenarios in a linear flow case, used for
generating transient IPR

In Figure 6 and 7, the vertical dashed lines show the times that are used to obtain the rates and pressures
for each of the scenarios. They correspond to t13, t210, t330, t490 and t5180 days after the start
of forecast. Plotting the pressures versus rates for each of the specified times above gives the transient
IPRs. Figure 8 shows the obtained IPRs, comparing constant-rate and constant-pwf scenarios for the
no-history case (Figure 8a) and the with-history case (Figure 8b). The following observations are noted:

Figure 8 Transient IPR for linear flow obtained at different times for constant-pwf and constant-rate (a) without history, (b) with nine
months of history

The IPRs are straight lines. This is expected because the reservoir fluid is single-phase oil for the
entire production period.
The IPRs based on constant-rate forecasting have different slopes than the IPRs generated using
the constant-pressure forecasting. It can be shown using linear flow analytical solutions for a
SPE-175975-MS 9

single-phase liquid that the constant-pwf IPR slopes are 1.57 times the constant-rate IPR slopes
(see Appendix A).
Regardless of the forecasting scenario (constant-rate or constant-pwf), the no-history IPRs pass through
the initial pressure, while the with-history IPRs extrapolate to a pressure that is neither initial pressure
nor the average reservoir pressure, nor the average pressure within the investigated region.
Zhou et al. (2014) investigated the transient IPR and discussed that the IPR slope is not only a function
of the reservoir characteristics (productivity index), but also a function of time-step size. In addition, they
mentioned that the intercept is not representative of the average reservoir pressure but equals the well
pressure if the well were shut-in for that duration. The principle of superposition can be used to prove this
statement. For the constant-rate case shown above, this can be easily depicted by shutting the well in and
plotting the build-up pressure and the intercepts of the calculated IPRs at different times. Figure 9 is a plot
of sandface shut-in pressure vs. time and its comparison with the intercept obtained from the transient IPR
at different times:

Figure 9 Comparison of the build-up pressure and the calculated intercept of the constant-rate with-history transient IPR

As mentioned previously, conventional IPR gives an intercept which is indicative of the average
reservoir pressure. Transient IPR intercept, however, does not give the average reservoir pressure; rather
it gives a point-intime shut-in pressure. In high permeability reservoirs where the pressure build-up is fast,
this shut-in pressure can be equal to the average reservoir pressure. Conversely, a lower permeability
causes slower build-up of pressure, which means that the shut-in pressure may not be equal to the average
pressure. In such a case, the IPR corresponding to a later time (for example 6 months IPR) leads to a
higher shut-in pressure which is closer to the average pressure.
Ramping Effects
In Figure 8, it is evident that the IPR obtained using constant pressures is different from that using constant
rates. This poses the question as to which of the two IPRs the production engineer should use. What this
demonstrates is that in a transient flow situation, the IPR depends on the production history. While this
had not been anticipated, it became clear upon reflection, that this was simply a different manifestation
of the principle of superposition. The fact that the IPR depends on the production scenario creates a
dilemma when an IPR is being generated for use by production engineers. There are now three factors that
need to be accounted for: (a) the production history, (b) the future time at which the IPR is required, and
(c) the production path between the production history and the specified future time. Each of these factors
will be discussed below:
a. Production History: Typically the production rate history is known, and when the flowing pressure
10 SPE-175975-MS

history is available, it can be used to build a reservoir model, which will then be used for
generating the required IPR.
b. Future Time of IPR: Figures 6a and 6b illustrate that as the flowing pressure is decreased, the
resulting flow rate changes, but because of the transient nature of the problem, the rate changes
significantly with time. In Figure 6a the rate changes from more than 1500 bpd to about 300 bpd
in 30 days. After that, the change in rate is significantly less and the rate can be considered to be
essentially stabilized. In most practical situations, the instantaneous rate after (say) 1 day is not
useful. What the engineer needs to know is what the stable rate will be as a result of the imposed
pressure change. For this reason, for the IPR to be useful to the production engineer, it must reflect
rates that are stable for practical purposes. Depending on the economics of the operation, 1, 3
and/or 6 months would be considered to be reasonable reference time frames to reflect stable rates.
c. Future Production Path: It has been shown (Figure 8) that constant pressure and constant rate
IPRs are different. This means that different flow scenarios during the specified future time (part
b. above) will yield different IPRs results. Operationally, changes in rate or pwf take effect over
a period of time, and not instantaneously (for example pump intake pressure or line backpressure
will change gradually). With this in mind, in addition to the step changes (constant-rate and
constant-pressure) in Figure 8, two additional forecasting scenarios were examined, namely:
linearly changing pwf over a period of time (ramp pwf) and linearly changing rate over a period
of time (ramp rate). The corresponding rates and pressures are shown in Figure 10 (for brevity,
only the rate and pwf profiles for the case with nine months of history was shown), and the
obtained IPRs are plotted in Figure 11.

Figure 10 With nine months of production history: Ramp-pwf and Ramp-rate forecasting scenarios in a linear flow case, used for
generating transient IPR
SPE-175975-MS 11

Figure 11Transient IPR for linear flow obtained at different times for ramp-pwf and ramp-rate (a) without history, (b) with nine months
of history

As mentioned before, Figure 8 shows that the constant-rate and constant-pressure IPRs are signifi-
cantly different. We thought they would correspond to the extreme range of IPRs and that the ramp-rate
and ramp-pressure IPRs would fall within that range. In fact, this was not the case. To depict these results
more clearly, the IPRs at two points in time (say t1 and t4) are extracted from Figures 8 and 11 and plotted
in Figures 12. Figure 12 demonstrates that the ramp-pressure and ramp-rate IPRs lie outside the expected
range (between constant-pressure and constant-rate). A cursory inspection of this figure shows that for the
same flowing pressure, ramp-rate and constant-pwf IPRs give the highest and lowest flow-rate values,
respectively. In addition, it is observed that the spread of the calculated rate values (for the same flowing
pressure) using ramp profiles (ramp-pwf and ramp-rate) is generally smaller than that of constant
production profiles.

Figure 12Comparison of the 3-day and 3-month IPRs generated from constant-pwf, constant-rate, ramp-pwf and ramp-rate forecast-
ing scenarios in a linear flow case; with nine months of history

In a nutshell, the results in this section demonstrate that future production path considerably affects the
transient IPR. If the future production path is known, e.g. a specified series of step pressure changes to
accommodate variable operations (such as graduated gas-lift, compression stages. . .) then the required
IPR can be generated for that specified path. Where the future production path is unkown, however, it is
reasonable to use ramp profiles to calculate IPR.
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Multi-fractured Horizontal Well

The preceding addressed linear flow into a single fracture in a homogeneous reservoir. Next, we consider
the performance of a multi-fractured horizontal well (reservoir configuration shown in Figure 5c) with 20
stages, xf150ft, xi30ft, Le4000ft, k14000nd and k2100nd. The resulting transient IPRs for
different forecasting scenarios (constant or ramp) are shown in Figure 13:

Figure 13Transient IPR for the Horizontal MultiFractured well obtained at different times; (a) for constant-pwf and constant-rate, (b)
for ramp-pwf and ramp-rate

The transient IPR obtained for this reservoir/well model (i.e. multi-fractured horizontal well with
enhanced peprmeability near the fractures) gives very similar results as the case originally presented in
this section (i.e. fractured vertical well with dominant linear flow). There is considerable difference
between the IPR generated using the constant-rate and constant-pwf, and ramp-rate and ramp-pwf
forecasts, which reiterates that the forecasting path has a significant effect on the obtained transient IPR,
when linear flow is present. By the same token, the previous statements about the effect of history can be
extended to the case of multi-fractured horizontal well.

Fluid Flow Effect

The previous section illustrated the transient IPR generated for different models with single-phase oil
flowing for the entire production period. As a result the calculated IPRs at different times were straight
lines. When there is gas produced (either a gas reservoir or a two-phase oil reservoir) the transient IPR
will have a curved shape, which is expected. Figure 14a and 14b show the calculated transient IPR at
different times for a dry gas reservoir, producing at constant-pwf during the forecasting period. Figure 14a
shows the transient IPRs without history, and Figure 14b show the transient IPRs with 9 months of history
(having produced at constant pwf of 2500 psia). As shown in Figure 14a, the pressure intercept (at zero
flow-rate) is equal to the initial pressure. In Figure 14b, however, the extrapolations of the curves to zero
flow-rate give point-in-time shut-in pressure values and not the initial pressure. This means that, for
example, if the well is shut-in for 3 days, the pressure at the wellbore is equal to the extrapolation of the
solid curve to the y-axis in Figure 14b. This is of academic interest in understanding the meaning of the
y-axis intercept, and the recognition that in contrast to the conventional IPR, it does NOT reflect the
average reservoir pressure. The y-axis intercept is of no practical value to the production engineer wanting
to use an IPR curve, and for that reason, and to avoid unnecessary confusion, we have deliberately avoided
showing it in Figure 14b.
SPE-175975-MS 13

Figure 14 Comparison of the transient IPR calculated for a dry gas reservoir, using constant-pwf forecasting scenarios; (a) without
history, (b) with nine months of history

As illustrated in the previous sections, the transient IPR graphically represents the relationship between
reservoir inflow rate and pressure at different times. It is intended to be used in combination with outflow
performance curves, similar to the conventional IPR. There are some drawbacks associated with its
application in unconventional reservoirs with extremely low permeabilities. Because of the low perme-
ability in tight and shale reservoirs, the transient IPR changes substantially for the first few months or even
years and therefore is very dependent on the time scale of interest. Based on the experience gained
working on IPR of different unconventional wells, it is recommended to generate 1, 3 and 6 months
transient IPR and use them with outflow performance relationships for optimizing production. In addition,
it is recommended not to plot the section of IPR near the pressure-axis because doing this avoids the
confusion about the meaning of the pressure-axis intercept. This does not diminish the practical appli-
cation of the transient IPR, since it is used primarily for examining different scenarios to maximize
Another complexity/confusion is that the transient IPR is a function of the forecasting path; i.e. for the
same reservoir, different forecast scenarios result in different transient IPRs. In order to minimize this
difference, the transient IPR could be calculated and presented in terms of either cumulative production
or material balance time (Palacio and Blasingame 1993). Appendix A discusses the analytical derivation
for calculating the difference between transient IPR generated based on constant-rate and constant-
pressure forecasts for a reservoir with linear flow. Even though such implementations had the potential
for a more unified form of transient IPR and therefore for reducing the susceptibility of the transient IPR
to the forecasting path, the complexities of implementation outweighed the simplicity and ease of use of
Figure 12 summarizes the effect of the production path on the IPR. It is obvious that the effect can be
significant. When generating a transient IPR, it would be best if the future flow path were specified, but
in the absence of such information, it is reasonable to generate a ramp-rate and a ramp-pressure and to
average the two values to represent a practical solution.
In 2014, Zhou et al. proposed a new nodal-analysis method that involved using IPR models generated
from a semianalytical reservoir simulator (and therefore capable of modeling transient flow behaviour)
simultaneously with outflow performance curves from a Nodal Analysis program. They used wellhead
pressure control for their model forecasting and for calculation of future IPR. Their proposed method is
useful as it provides insight into transient IPR, yet it requires complex coupling of reservoir IPR and well
outflow performance for each time step. They confirmed that availability and length of production history
plays an important role in the obtained transient IPR. Using their results and those presented in this work,
14 SPE-175975-MS

it can be concluded that both history and forecast have considerable effect on transient IPR. While the
Zhou et al. methodology is rigorous, it is also complex and is not appropriate for common everyday
production operations. The methodology to be presented in the next section, while less rigorous, is
considered to be sufficiently accurate for practical purposes.
The salient observation with respect to Transient IPR is that it is dependent on the production history.
To illustrate this effect, the gas reservoir example in Figure 14 was used, with four history cases. These
history scenarios were similar in that the production was at pwf2500 psia, and different from each other
in the length of production (production for 50, 100, 270 and 400 days for History 1 to 4, respectively).
Figure 15 shows the one- month transient IPR. The differences between various curves in this figure
demonstrate the effect of production history on transient IPR, and are consistent with Figure 4.

Figure 15Effect of production history on the calculated transient IPR for a gas reservoir, forecast using similar constant-pwf

Recommended Methodology

The method presented by Zhou et al. (2014) is useful but complicated. It involves integration of the IPR
and OPR at each time-step. Their transient IPR requires knowledge of the OPR, unlike the conventional
workflow in which the IPR is independent of OPR. While their coupled IPR/OPR process is rigorous, the
ease-of-use of the traditional IPR is lost. In the following, we summarize the procedure for obtaining a
transient IPR which can be used with the OPR, in a manner similar to that of conventional reservoirs:
1. Develop an appropriate reservoir model and perform reasonable history matching,
2. Specify the time at which IPR is required. 1, 3 or 6 months is recommended.
3. Forecast production using ramp-pwf and ramp-rate (start the ramp with the model pwf corre-
sponding to end of history, and end it at different pwf values),
4. Use the different sets of pwf-rate data obtained from different ramp-pwf and ramp-rate scenarios
and read their corresponding rate and pwf for the specified times in step 2,
5. For each pwf, calculate the average of the rates of the ramp-pwf and ramp-rate scenarios,
6. Plotting the pwfs vs. calculated average of rates give the IPR which can be used by a production
There is no reason why the above IPR could not be generated for multiple specified times, say 1, 3 and
6 months. In this way, the economic implications of the transient effects could be more readily evaluated.
Example case
This example illustrates the application of the proposed methodology to a synthetic variable rate-variable
pressure well. The well and reservoir propeprties for this example are taken from an Eagle Ford shale dry
SPE-175975-MS 15

gas multi-fraced horizontal well approximately 5000 feet long. A plot of the gas rate and synthesized
BHP for this well is shown in Figure 16:

Figure 16 Cartesian plot of historical bottomhole pressure and rate for the Eagle Ford dry-gas well

The model used for matching this set of pressure and rate data is the Enhanced Fracture Region model
developed by Stalgorova and Mattar (2013) with pressure-dependent permeability.
In order to investigate the application of the proposed transient IPR, only about 14 month (420 days)
of production data was used for analysis. Following the steps described in the previous section, transient
IPRs were generated for the subsequent 1-Month, 3-Month and 6-Month. The resulting IPRs were then
compared against the original rate and pressure data, see Figure 17. The future rate and/or pressure were
reasonably predicted by the transient IPR at the different times.

Figure 17Comparison of the 1-month, 3-month and 4-month IPRs and the corresponding rates for the synthetic case example

This example case illustrates that provided that the model and history matching parameters reasonably
describe the behavior of the reservoir, the proposed transient IPR can be used to reasonably determine the
future behavior of the reservoir, and combined with outflow performance curves to evaluate various
production scenarios.
16 SPE-175975-MS

Transient flow situations are complex, and for rigorous forecasting, they require the simultaneous
use of reservoir models and surface system models. This complexity necessarily reduces the IPR
utility in solving everyday production problems.
It is possible to generate a Transient IPR which has the same utility as the conventional IPR.
Transient IPRs are dependent on the production history and also on the future forecast path.
A procedure has been outlined for developing an approximate but practical Transient IPR. It can
be used in the same way as the traditional IPR to evaluate various OPR scenarios.
Generating a 1, 3 and 6-month IPR can readily demonstrate the severity (if any) of the transient effects.

SRV Stimulated Reservoir Volume
IPR Inflow Performance Relationship
OPR Outflow Performance Relationship
PI Productivity Index
qg Gas flow rate, MScf/D
C Flow coefficient, MscfD/psia2n or StbD/psia
n Deliverability exponent, dimensionless
Pwf Wellbore flowing pressure, psia
Pavg Average reservoir pressure, psia
qo,max Maximum oil rate, Stb/D
qo Oil production rate, Stb/D
Pb Bubble point pressure, psia
Pi Initial pressure, psia
Xe Reservoir size in the x-direction, ft
xf Fracture half-length, ft
ye Reservoir size in the y-direction, ft
Np Cumulative oil production, Stb
B Formation volume factor, bbl/Stb
Viscosity, cp
k Permeability, md
h Formation thickness, ft
Porosity, Fraction
ct Total compressibility, 1/psia

1. Brar, G.S. and Aziz, K. 1978. Analysis of Modified Isochronal Tests to Predict the Stabilized
Deliverability Potential of Gas Wells without Using Stabilized Flow Data (includes associated
papers 12933, 16320 and 16391). J Pet Technol 30 (2): 297304. SPE-6134-PA.
2. ERCB 1975. Theory and Practice of the Testing of Gas Wells, Third Edition, Alberta Energy
Resources Conservation Board, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
3. Fetkovich, M.J. 1973. The Isochronal Testing of Oil Wells. Presented at the Fall Meeting of the
Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME, Las Vegas, Nevada, 30 September-3 October 1973.
4. Golan, M. and Whitson, C.H. 1995. Well Performance, Second Edition, Prentice-Hall Inc.
5. Houpeurt, A. 1959. On the Flow of Gases in Porous Media. Revue de LInstitut Francais du
Petrole XIV (11): 1468 1684.
SPE-175975-MS 17

6. Palacio, J.C., Blasingame, T.A. 1993. Decline-Curve Analysis With Type CurvesAnalysis of
Gas Well Production Data. Paper SPE 25909 presented at the SPE Joint Rocky Mountain
Regional and Low Permeability Reservoirs Symposium, Denver, Colorado, USA, 26 28.
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Application to Production Practices, Vol. 7. Baltimore, Maryland: Monograph Series, US Bureau
of Mines.
8. Stalgorova, E., Mattar, L. 2013. Analytical Model for Unconventional Multifractured Composite
Systems. SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering 16 (3): 246 256. SPE-162516-PA.
9. Stalgorova, E., Mattar, L. 2012. Practical Analytical Model to Simulate Production of Horizontal
Wells with Branch Fractures. Paper SPE 162515 presented at the SPE Canadian Unconventional
Resources Conference, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 30 October-1 November.
10. Standing, M.B. 1971. Concerning the Calculation of Inflow Performance of Wells Producing from
Solution Gas Drive Reservoirs. J Pet Technol 23 (9): 11411142. SPE-3332-PA.
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Petroleum Technology, SPE-1476-PA, 20 (1), p. 8392.
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Linear Flow Into Fractured Tight Gas Wells. Paper SPE 39931 presented at the SPE Rocky
Mountain Regional/Low- Permeability Reservoirs Symposium and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado,
April 05-08.
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Res Eng 9 (3): 181182. SPE-25458-PA.
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18 SPE-175975-MS

Appendix A
Linear Flow IPR Relationships

The purpose of this appendix is to analytically investigate the transient IPR for a single-phase oil reservoir with linear flow.
The reservoir configuration for this analysis is similar to Figure 5a. In order to proceed with the linear flow formulation, first
we define dimensionless time as , dimensionless pressure (for constant-rate production) as
and dimensionless rate (for constant-pressure production) as .
Using these parameters and solving the linear diffusivity equation for the infinite acting period gives the rate/pressure
relations shown in Table A.1 (Wattenbarger et al. 1998):

Table A.1Transient linear flow solutions

Comparing the last equations in columns two and three of the above table shows that there is a ratio of /2 between the
slopes of the IPR generated for constant-rate and constant-pwf production. In order to present IPR in terms of cumulative
production, first we calculate the cumulative production (Np f qdt) for the constant-rate case and then rearrange the equation
to yield the following relation:
Eq. A.1

For constant-pwf production, the cumulative production can be calculated and expressed in the following form:
Eq. A.2

Equations A.1 and A.2 relate the pwf and rate (and therefore express IPR) in terms of Np (instead of time) and show that
for a specified value of Np, p is not a linear function of rate. To make the comparison of these equations more tractable, we
consider the IPR (based on Np) as the plot of p2 versus rate. Comparing Equations A.1 and A.2 show that for the same value
of Np, the IPR for constant-rate differs from that of constant-pwf and their slope ratio is 2/8. This value is lower than the IPR
slope ratio when presented in terms of time.
Afterwards, we take one step further and use the material balance time, in place of time, for IPR generation.
Since the definition of material balance time is , we simply divide both sides of the above two equations by
rate. Then, using the definition of material balance time for the constant-rate production gives:
Eq. A.3

And using the material balance time for the constant-pwf production results in:
Eq. A.4

Comparing Eq. A.3 and Eq. A.4 shows that for the same value of the material balance time, the ratio of IPR slope between
SPE-175975-MS 19

the constant-rate and constant-pwf is . It is noted that Eq. A.3 is identical to the constant-rate IPR based on time (last
equation in middle column of Table A.1), which is expected.
Table A.2 shows a comparison of the different methods used for generating IPR (using time, material balance time, and
cumulative production). As can be seen in the last column, ratio of the IPR slope obtained for constant- pwf to that of
constant-rate IPR is larger than unity, meaning that the constant-pwf IPR is steeper than that of constant-rate. The maximum
difference belongs to the cases that IPR is generated based on time. In cases where we use either cumulative production or
material balance time, the calculated constant-pwf IPRs is closer to the constant-rate IPRs.

Table A.2Inflow performance relationships for transient linear flow